One of the best ways to learn about public speaking and to watch great motivational speeches is to get on TED.com. They have great inspirational speeches on there from some of the best speakers in the world on a variety of topics. Things from psychology and motivation, to technology, to medical breakthroughs, to beautiful scenery, to creativity, to all these different things. They have so many different topics, and it is awesome.
But I just wanted to drill down my top 10 TED talks of all time. What do I think are the greatest TED talks that I have watched, and I have watched a lot of TED talks.
So I want to quickly highlight them to you and go through them. I’ve actually imbedded the videos on this page so you can watch them without having to go anywhere. I’m going to work my way from number 10 to number 1.
10. “The Surprising Science of Motivation” by Daniel Pink
This is a great TED talk that is actually very controversial, because he brings out some scientific studies about what motivates people. And obviously in the sales world, commissions and financial incentives are used very heavily to inspire motivation and to get people to work harder.
But in this talk, Daniel shows how financial incentives can actually decrease the productivity of people. So it gives a different sort of look at how we can motivate people so it’s very exciting.
9. “The Key to Growth: Race with the Machines” by Eric Brynjolfsson
Now this is quite a recent TED talk that’s been put up in 2013, but it has a really good insight in it, which is that when electricity came into being, which is a very general purpose technology, even though this electricity came in, which was so much better than steam power, it actually took 30 years before factories had increases in productivity and increases in output.
So Eric is saying that growth is not dead, and that there could actually be a lag between when a technology is created and when we see the productivity from that. Like happened with electricity, maybe that’s happening with computers and the internet.
8. “The Game That Can Give You 10 Extra Years of Life” by Jane McGonigal
So Jane McGonigal is the creator of what she calls Super Better, which is . . . How do I explain it? It’s a game where people who are sick, it’s a mental game that they play.
So it’s not a computer game that they play, but it’s things that they do to pick themselves up, and to make them feel better. So she walks you through how Super Better works, and some simple things that you can do to improve your life and give yourself extra years.
7. “The Surprising Decline in Violence” by Steven Pinker
In this TED talk, Steven walks through the history of violence in the world and looks back at biblical times and looks back at history, and actually shows us that despite all the wars that are happening, we’re actually living in probably the most peaceful time that we know about. So that’s a very interesting one to look at.
6. “Breakthrough Touchscreen” by Jeff Han
This was filmed in February 2006. So Jeff walks through an example of his touchscreen that he created, and going back 2006. What is it now? 2013.
So you’re looking at seven years. And obviously we’ve got iPhones. We’ve got Samsungs. We’ve got all of these touchscreen devices now. But going back to 2006, all of that stuff didn’t exist. So this is really a breakthrough and really ahead of it’s time, and that’s what makes this TED talk so interesting.
5. “Your Elusive Creative Genius” by Elizabeth Gilbert
In this one she talks about the creative genius that could exist outside of you, and how you can tap into that creative genius.
For anyone that is in a creative role, whether that be creating podcasts like I create, creating blog posts, creating marketing material, creating sales pitches, if you’re in a creative role and you’re using creativity in your everyday life, which let’s face it, almost all of us do, then this is a great TED talk to watch.
4. “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” by Sir Ken Robinson
Ken basically talks about how the current schooling system is broken, and how when they do studies of younger children, they find that almost every one is creative.
But as people move through school, people stop seeing themselves as creative, and schools could potentially be causing that death of creativity we’re seeing in our society. And so what can we do about that?
3. “How to Live Before You Die” by Steve Jobs
Number 3 is not technically a TED talk, but is hosted on TED, and is very heavily watched. And that’s Steve Jobs’ “How to Live Before You Die.” So this became extremely popular after Steve Jobs’ death, but it was filmed at Stanford.
It was a Stanford address back in 2005. So he talks about some of the lessons that he’s learned through his life, and how you can go out and live your life. And obviously Steve Jobs, a phenomenal man, phenomenal turnaround of what he did with Apple.
And so this is a really great TED talk to watch and to kind of suck whatever you can out of the genius that is Steve Jobs.
2. “Stroke of Insight” by Jewel Bolt Taylor
Now this one I almost put as number 1, so close, because it was such a phenomenal speech. And that’s Jewel Bolt Taylor’s speech, “Stroke of Insight.” Jewel Bolt Taylor is a psychologist and in neuroscience, and she studies the brain.
And what happened was, she had a stroke, and she talks about the experience of her stroke. And it is a phenomenal story about how she felt and what was happening to her at the time, and then also her recovery through that.
So that has been one of the most watched TED talks of all time, and there is a reason for that, in that it is just a phenomenal speech, and it will just blow your mind.
1. “How I Harnessed The Wind” by William Kamkwamba
Now what I have listed as the number 1 TED talk of all time is gonna throw a lot of people off, because it is not a well-known TED talk, and it’s not one of those top-ranking TED talks by views.
But it is one that has personally inspired me and inspired many people that I know. And even though this speech is quite basic, the story about this person and how he changed not just his life, but the life of his community, is phenomenal.
And that’s William Kamkwamba, “How I Harnessed The Wind”
And this is the speech of a young boy who lived in a drought area in Africa, who couldn’t afford to go to school. So he got pulled out of school. And so what he did was he went to the local library, and he read some physics books, and he learned how to build a windmill.
He used that windmill to both power, to create electricity, and also to water their crops and things like that. So he changed not just his community, but so many people. And it’s just so inspiring to see that one kid can pick up a book, and with a small innovation that.
You know, a windmill, they’ve been around for years and years and years. You know, we’re so advanced with windmills these days, that we’ve got your electric turbines.
But for him to create something so basic out of materials that he found at a tip, and to turn that into a life for himself, a life for his family, and provision for his entire community, is so inspiring. So if you’re going to watch any TED talks, I suggest you check that one out.
So that’s been my top 10 TED talks of all time, inspiring talks, great talks, things that you need to watch, and you need to get inspired about public speaking.
Because it’s things like this that drive me to do this podcast. It’s talks like this that drive me to be a better public speaker. Because the way these speeches have impacted my life, I want to be able to have that impact on other people’s lives. I hope this has been great information for you.